Special Stains for Skin

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course The Histology of Dermatological Specimens - Part 2. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Special Stains for Skin

Since some pathological conditions cannot be determined simply by examining the hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained sections, special stains are worth mentioning. Special stains may be required for definitive diagnosis. Today, a wide variety of special stains are available; they are economical, and require little time and effort to achieve great results. This course concludes with an overview of the most common special stains and their uses for determining various skin conditions in dermatopathology.
Histotechnologists should be familiar with the variety of special stains for skin samples, such as those in the following list. In addition, there are numerous immunohistochemical (IHC) stains applied to skin sections for disease diagnosis. However, this section only focuses on the common histochemical stains, such as:
  • Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)
  • Grocott's methenamine silver (GMS)
  • Acid-fast bacterial stain (AFB)
  • Brown and Brenn Gram stain
  • Warthin-Starry
  • Giemsa
  • Fontana-Masson
  • Congo red

Fungal hyphae using Gomori's methenamine silver
Melanin pigment (black) in skin section